Trump’s Racism Is Feudal

The president wants African Americans to kiss his ring.

If sensitive information is central, as seems the case on this issue, some of this may need to be done in closed session. Congress might give the lead to the House Select Committee for Intelligence, which has a better ability to handle classified testimony and documents than the House Oversight Committee. Avoiding political theater is especially important with privacy-protected information. In the past, public pressure resulting from congressional oversight and/or the media’s investigative reporting has prompted administrations to fire or force the resignation of irresponsible officials. It’s been less common for scandals to drive such responses from this administration, but keep in mind that Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, found himself without a job amid public outcry.

President Trump directed his chief of staff in 2017 to award Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance, overruling career officials who deemed the senior adviser and presidential son-in-law unworthy of eligibility access to that level of classified information, both the New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The reaction has been swift and fierce, especially from Democrats on Capitol Hill. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who had already requested security clearance-related information from the White House, called for “full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance.” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote: “There is no nepotism exception for background investigations.”

In fact, there is. It’s part of a huge “exception” for granting security clearances: the whim of the person in the Oval Office.

.. Legitimate questions remain about Kushner’s suitability for a senior position in the White House given his reported attempt to establish a secret back-channel with Russia during the transition — and to do it with Russian embassy communication equipment rather than anything under U.S. government control or knowledge.

.. But now, there are numerous legitimate questions for Congress to pursue. Why couldn’t Kushner get favorable approval through a system that millions of others have gone through? Does he have specific counterintelligence vulnerabilities for foreign manipulation? Did the president actually overrule career advice given to him — and, if so, why? Demanding information with subpoenas or with power-of-the-purse tactics about the president’s decision-making — not his inherent underlying authority — is how oversight should work in this case.

.. If sensitive information is central, as seems the case on this issue, some of this may need to be done in closed session. Congress might give the lead to the House Select Committee for Intelligence, which has a better ability to handle classified testimony and documents than the House Oversight Committee. Avoiding political theater is especially important with privacy-protected information.

In the past, public pressure resulting from congressional oversight and/or the media’s investigative reporting has prompted administrations to fire or force the resignation of irresponsible officials. It’s been less common for scandals to drive such responses from this administration, but keep in mind that Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, found himself without a job amid public outcry.

House Democrats unveil bill to obtain Trump’s tax returns, put checks on White House

A day after assuming the majority, House Democrats on Friday unveiled a sweeping ethics reform package that would put new checks on the White House and require President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

House Democrats mostly presented the package — which contains numerous changes to campaign finance and ethics law — as a set of popular good-government reforms during a Friday press conference on Capitol Hill. But the bill’s proposed checks on Trump also will make it a useful cudgel for the new majority, even though the legislation is unlikely to be approved by the GOP-held Senate.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, indicated he will be stepping up oversight of Trump in the coming weeks.

.. The new bill would mandate that the president and vice president release 10 years of their tax returns. It would also enhance ethics rules for White House employees and give the Office of Government Ethics more enforcement power.

.. Another change to campaign-finance law in the bill: A requirement that super PACs and other groups that spend more than $10,000 in an election disclose their donors within 24 hours. Nearly 70 super PACs found ways to delay disclosing their donors during the 2018 elections, according to a POLITICO analysis. The issue has gotten little attention from lawmakers, and activists in contact with House Democrats initially said it wouldn’t be addressed in the bill.

Republicans, your ‘regular order’ is out of order

Babies are seized from their mothers’ arms. Photographs show their anguish. News reports describe their cages. A recording captures their wailing and a U.S. border official’s cold mockery. A defiant President Trump falsely blames others for the misery he created.

And Republican lawmakers respond as they often have: They hold another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

But they have run this play too many times before.

.. Just 29 seconds into Tuesday’s hearing on the defeated Democratic 2016 presidential nominee and her emails, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, interrupted to point out that something more important needs attention.

.. “They are children who have been forcibly removed from their parents in our name.”

Republicans on the committee tried to silence Nadler with calls of “order!”

Nadler spoke over them: “The United States should be better than this. We should not put children in cages.”

“Regular order!” called out Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

.. Ah, so it’s “regular order” to have the umpteenth hearing about a now-private citizen’s emails, but you’re “pulling” a stunt if you talk about the Trump policy under which border guards are reportedly telling parents they are taking children “for a bath” and the children never return.

No, Republicans, your “regular order” is out of order.

.. As soon as Gowdy had silenced Nadler, two women in the back of the room, with infants in their laps, began to heckle the lawmakers about the inhumanity of Trump’s family separation policy.

Gowdy slammed the gavel to the dais and demanded that the mothers and babies be removed. (At least the Capitol Police had the good sense not to take the babies from the mothers.) “We will be in recess until the Capitol Police restore order!” Gowdy proclaimed.

But “order” remained elusive.

.. Shortly after the moms and babies were evicted from the room, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, spoke. “Are we really going to sit here, 70 members of the Congress of the United States of America, in 2018, and have a hearing . . . on Hillary Clinton’s emails?

.. “We should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely and hidden away from public view. What country is that? This is the United States of America! We now have reports of parents being deported, but the Trump administration is keeping their children here.”

.. Unhappy that Clinton wasn’t charged in 2016 for mishandling her emails, they had demanded an investigation into the original investigation of Clinton. That investigation, conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, last week reported misconduct by some officials but “no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”

.. Now Republicans, still unsatisfied, are threatening to investigate the investigation of the investigation of Clinton. Senate Republicans hauled Horowitz in Monday, and House Republicans hauled him in Tuesday, to field questions for seven hours from 70 lawmakers

.. they care more about a scrubbed server than a clean conscience.